AN ANGEL IN THE PARK, currently running at Barnstormers Theater in Ridley Park, PA, is billed as a “Feel Good Comedy”. An online definition of comedy: “A dramatic work that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone and that usually contains a happy resolution of the thematic conflict.” fits exactly what I saw at The Barnstormers with the “Feel Good” aspect added like a cherry on top of your sundae.
AN ANGEL IN THE PARK is an original work by R. Bruce Warren. This show is a series of vignettes that are directly related because of park bench #14 and indirectly related by the characters. It does have a good heart, though Act II is rather lengthy and could be better served by cutting some scenes, which did not fit the premise of “the bench”.
AN ANGEL IN THE PARK starts with a character called Beverly (played by Cathy Fallon) sitting on park bench #14. As the scene progressed she reminded me of Ruth Buzzi playing Gladys (the lady who sat on a park bench with a swinging handbag) and was soon joined by Earl (Dave Ferrier). These two actors were well matched as sparring partners and the scene left you with more questions than answers (not a bad thing). The addition of Officer Callahan (James Reese) and Mrs. Gabriel (Marsha L. Amato-Greenspan) at the very end of this first scene added even more intrigue.
The next scene has a high school couple, played by Natalie A. Brown and Daniel Reiher (both displaying great facial reactions) having an argument when who comes along but Mrs. Gabriel (Amato-Greenspan) to help resolve the problem (think Angela Lansbury in MURDER SHE WROTE). Actors Amato-Greenspan and Reese do a good job of teasing us with character development at the end of Act I.
In Act II Natalie A. Brown and Daniel Reiher returned as a different young couple; both delivering solid performances. Next we have widows played by Julie Lacontora and Karen Eckstein-Sarkissian; these actresses brought out the quirkiness of the characters without being cartoonish. Yale Schwartz and David Warren Campbell played the widows’ dead husbands with great restraint and a calming tone. One last couple, played by John Devine (a natural onstage) and Marilyn Devine did good work with the less-than-interesting characters they were given to portray.
The writer saved the best characters for the end of the show. David Richman had great chemistry with his scene partner, Charlie, giving a very honest portrayal as the character, James. Richman also brought out the best acting of Amato-Greenspan for the evening in their shared scene; he saved her from being portrayed as a yenta. Writer and director R. Bruce Warren won the lottery by having both Richman and Amato-Greenspan in this production.
The show ended with some goose bumps and the “feel good” that it promised. If you are seeking a knee slapping evening of wild comedy in the theater, please go see a different show; but if you are looking for a big hug and a gentle smile then AN ANGEL IN THE PARK is the show you need to see. Definitely worth the ticket price of ten dollars for adults and just eight dollars for seniors and youths!
AN ANGEL IN THE PARK
Written and Directed by R. Bruce Warren
March 23-April 7, 2012
Ward and Tome Streets
Ridgely Park, PA 19078